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In The Descent into Happiness: A Bicycling Journey Over the Cascades and Rockies and Across the Great Plains, David Howell brings us a blend of travel narrative and mental wandering. Howell takes us on a cross-country, solo, self-supported bicycle ride from Seattle to Milwaukee.

The route follows the Northern Tier: over the North Cascades Highway, through Glacier National Park, along Highway 2 and across Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.

But while he tells the story of the journey—and of the characters he meets along the way—Howell also confronts a series of conundrums he had been pondering for years: Is it okay to spend so much time alone, to give in to introversion? How can one embrace introversion and solitude while also being a father and husband? By the end of the journey, he resolves that solitude can enhance one’s time with others, just as time with others can enhance solitude.

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